Thursday, September 30, 2010

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

I found this weekly meme over at Debbie's Book Bag this week, and I thought it was a great idea.  While I'm still new at this, I've been trying some different things.  But I think this one will keep.  Dollycas's Thoughts first started this in an attempt for bloggers and readers to get to know each other.  Though we often read each others thoughts on books, movies, and life in general, sometimes we do not even know simple things like favorite foods and such.  Here's how it works: Dollycas lists four different questions each week, and those who want to participate post their answers.  Plus, there's a linky thingy on Dollycas's Thoughts blog and others that helps spread the word.  Anyway, here's the questions:

1. List four things you carry in your handbag.

-cell phone
-book (or my kindle of late)
-driver's license, CPR card, and RN license (you know know what might happen...)

2. List four things on top of your desk.
Since I'm using my kitchen table as my desk right now until I get everything all settled (my actual desk is holding boxes), I'll list those things.
-dog treats (for when my puppy actually goes outside - we're getting poddy trained)
-pumpkin candy dish (yah it's fall)
-pictures of the family

3. List four of your favorite things in your bedroom.
-my quilts.  They were homemade by my mom
-my pillow
-my journal - the one place where I can be completely uncensored (sometimes not a pretty picture - my sister has direct orders to burn it if anything ever happens to me)  :) 
-my puppy dog: Bennett  (He's always in my bedroom when I am, so I think that counts).  Isn't he cute?!

Woooo... That's a long ways down...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heart of Stone

Heart of Stone: A Novel (Irish Angel Series)
Heart of Stone (Irish Sister Series, 1) by Jill Marie Landis
312 pages
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads Description: 
Finally free to pursue her dreams, Laura Foster is trying hard not to fall in love. She knows that the Reverend Brand McCormick’s reputation would be shattered if her former life is discovered. But it’s not only Laura’s history that threatens to bring Brand down—it’s his own.  

My Thoughts:
Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis is a novel I acquired through a Goodreads bookswap.  I cannot for the life of me remember where I first found the book or who recommended it to me.  I was excited to read the novel from the description, and I dove into it this evening after receiving it in the mail.

Though the plot line is not completely predictable, I was slightly disappointed.   I had trouble connecting with the characters and feeling their emotions.  The basic story is a classic tale of forgiveness.  Laura is a self-made young woman who was sold into prostitution as a child.  She now owns a boardinghouse and desires only to live a normal life.  Her love interest, Reverend Brand, is a lovesick suitor, who determinedly pursues her.  She avoids him, in order to protect his reputation.  But it turns out that he has a past of his own.  The forgiveness background is based on the verse John 8:7 - "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."  A personal believer in not judging people by their circumstances or mistakes, I greatly enjoyed the idea of the hypocritical first reactions of the townspeople and friends being replaced with grace.  I truly thought these parts of the novel were well-written.

However, the romance slightly eluded me.  The title, Heart of Stone, is supposed to be based on the idea that, in order to survive, Laura has walled herself off from everyone - completely void of emotion.  I never felt that.  She seemed caring to me from the beginning.  I also had a hard time seeing the past Laura and the present Laura as the same person.  In books with past/present contrasts (and in real life), putting a past behind oneself does not mean being completely free of it.  Scars are always present, and healing is needed.  Laura seemed almost two-dimensional, as one moment she is completely ashamed and putting up a facade and, the next, she is willing to tell everyone her story and live as a person unashamed.  I understand that healing and forgiveness through the Lord is present, but even then, healing is not instantaneous.  It's a process to learn to love oneself through Christ.  I just thought it was a little too much of a snap-your-fingers-there's-a-change story.  It is once she has had this change that she can open herself up to loving Brand.  But since I did not really feel the change, the "love declaration" was a little flat for me as well.

Overall, I gave this book a 3/5.  I enjoyed the story, and I am not sorry I read it.  I probably will not read it again, but I might pick up the next book in the series with the hope that I can connect to those characters a little better.  I recommend this novel for those who greatly enjoy Christian fiction and Christian romance.  Those into mysteries and thrillers may be bored, so unless you are looking for laid-back paced plot, you may want to pass this one up.  Those who enjoy Christian fiction will enjoy the plot, which is not completely predictable, and the backdrop of forgiveness.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Findings of Note

So I was going to save another Findings for another day, but I've found so many exciting things this morning that I could not help myself.  Otherwise, my future post would be miles long.  Plus, I cannot wait to share these new finds.

Book Finds:
Memory Between Us, A: A Novel (Wings of Glory)
Debbie over at Debbie's Book Blog included this book in her Tuesday Teaser.  The cover intrigued me, and the description at Goodreads made me ever more excited.  I am a Pearl Harbor romantic, so anything written in WWII is a must.  Including a military nurse is just an added bonus!  This book is the second in the Wings of Glory series.  Since reading books in order is a pet peeve of mine, I can tell you that I will be getting the first book, Distant Melody, A: A Novel (Wings of Glory), hopefully very soon!

Siren by Tricia Rayburn
Jessica over at Confessions of a Bookaholic recently returned from vacation and posted her In Your Mailbox.  And boy am I glad.  Such a great set of books!  I linked to the post because I was so impressed.  But I wanted to post about some books I found especially interesting.  Siren is one of those books that had-me-at-the-cover.  It is a young adult fiction that relates to siren mythology.  Here is the Goodreads description.  But just know that I added it instantly to my to-be-read pile.

Girl v. Boy
Girl v. Boy by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout
Jessica over at Confessions of a Bookaholic also featured this in her In My Mailbox post.  It is also a young adult fiction, but I cannot wait to read it!  How my to-be-read list is growing.  I'm beginning to think that there is no way I will be finishing my Bookshelf To Read List anytime soon.  But hey, I'm increasingly excited to have a never ending pile of books to read and be excited about.

Blogs of Note:
As you may already be able to tell, I've been perusing a short number of blogs this morning.  Normally, I have several posts to read from those I follow.  However, in the beginning of my update list, I got stuck in some extra special blogs I want to point out.  Some I've featured before, but I'm excited about them, so I'll post about them again.

Jessica writes the blog Confessions of a Bookaholic.  She is a grad student who is forever challenging me to be more diligent in reading and writing (after all, she's married and going to school - and look at all she does!)  She enjoys young adult fiction, paranormal fiction, and all kinds of others.  She often reviews books, and she has her own shelf on my goodreads account in which I shelve her recommendations.

Pure Imagination
Lori writes the blog Pure  Imagination.  She was one of the first book bloggers I found, though I still read her regularly.  She continually excites me about different books, and she seems to have constant giveaways. 

This blog is my newest find - one I am ecstatic about.  Debbie writes Debbie's Book Bag.  She writes about all types of books.  Plus, she might be a kindred spirit in that she loves challenges.  I've spent several hours already this morning browsing her blog, and I've only tipped the iceberg.  She's currently holding several giveaways (I've linked to below).  Though I only found her blog  yesterday, she also has her own shelf in my goodreads account in which I've added several recommendations already.
Since I've already posted about most of these bloggers and as I hope to be reviewing most of these novels soon, I'll keep it short and sweet by linking to the giveaway and including the Goodreads description.

Darcy's Voyage Darcy's Voyage by Kara  Louise has a given away at Debbie's Book Blog.  Debbie also has a great interview with the author.

Goodreads description:
In this enchanting and highly original retelling of Jane Austen-s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet sets out for the new world aboard the grand ship Pemberley-s Promise. She-s prepared for an uneventful voyage until a chance encounter with the handsome, taciturn Mr. Darcy turns her world upside down.When Elizabeth falls ill, Darcy throws convention overboard in a plan that will bind them to each other more deeply than he ever could have imagined. But the perils of their ocean voyage pale in comparison to the harsh reality of society-s rules that threaten their chance at happiness. When they return to the lavish halls of England, will their love survive?

Mr. Darcy's Little Sister   Mr Darcy's Little Sister by C. Allyn Pierson is also in a giveaway at Debbie's Book Blog.  There is also a guest post by the author at the link.   As a huge Jane Austen fan, I'm excited to read both of these novels.

Goodreads Description:
Darcy and Elizabeth have found their happily ever after - now it's Georgiana Darcy's turn! Joining her brother and his new bride, Elizabeth in London is a dream come true for the shy, sweet Georgiana Darcy. Eager to learn to negotiate polite society from her graceful and composed new sister-in-law, Georgiana is ready to make her entrance into the matchmaking and intrigue filled ballrooms of London. Making her way through the sea of rogues and fortune hunters, Georgiana will make the transition from being simply Mr. Darcy's little sister to a confident young woman with her own engaging story to tell.

Low Red Moon  Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin is actually in two different giveaways: one at Confessions of a Bookaholic, which ends tomorrow (9/29), and one at Pure Imagination.

Goodreads Description:
Avery Hood is reeling from the loss of her parents--and the fact that she can't remember what happened to them even though she was there.  She's struggling to adjust to life without them, and to living with her grandmother, when she meets Ben, who isn't like any guy she's ever met before.
It turns out there's a reason why, and Ben's secret may hold the key to Avery finding out what happened to her parents... But what if that secret changes everything she knows about--and feels for--Ben?

Scars   Scars by Cheryl Rainfield is currently in a giveaway over at Confessions of a Bookaholic.  Jessica was on the blog tour, and she has also included in the linked post some artwork by Cheryl Rainfield and a great interview.  The book covers the topic of childhood abuse.  Though not on my "fun list," it sounds great; and I'm anxious to read it. 

Goodreads Description: 
Kendra, fifteen, hasn't felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can't remember the most important detail-- her abuser's identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it's her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who's becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra's abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. Scars is the unforgettable story of one girl's frightening path to the truth. 

 Now you can see why I decided to not wait until later to post all my amazing finds.    I hope anyone who finds their way to my blog enjoys them as much as I did.

Until next time,
Hannah Marie 

Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Book 1)

Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz
302 pages
Rating: 3/5

When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society.

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapated mansion. Schuyler is a loner...and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead... drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn't know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?

Could those vampire legends really be true? Steeped in vampire lore and set against the glittery backdrop of New York City, Blue Bloods will be devoured by Melissa de la Cruz's legion fans.

My Thoughts:
I cannot remember where I first found Blue Bloods, but I was quite excited when I received it in the mail yesterday.  I have to say that my excitement was both fulfilled and disappointed.  The storyline and concept of Blue Bloods fascinates me.  I, being a Twilight fan, love a good vampire/fantasy novel.  In the sense that vampire novels have become the fad, Blue Bloods had an original vampire concept behind it.  Melissa De La Cruz writes a plot in which vampires are immortal beings who inhabit human bodies for 100 years.  The humans then expire, and the souls are "recycled" to another human body in which the vampire's soul, memories, and thoughts are continued.  The humans grow into their vampire selves at age 15, at which time they can have flashback memories.  I love the idea of being connected to someone of old.  Having a history that spans generations speaks to the romantic in me.  (I had flashes of the music video from Taylor Swift's "Love Story.")  Plus, the danger in the novel reminds me of the Harry Potter novels.  It excited me to read the book in one evening.

However, the disappointment comes in the form of the less-than-poetic writing.  At the beginning of the novel, I found myself bored.  I wanted to keep reading, but I keep remembering that I was hungry.  I was thinking about ice cream and brownies while I was reading.  To me, a good book takes me out of this world and into the pages.  I can read for hours and look up to suddenly realize I've sat in the same spot without moving and completely missed lunch and dinner.  This novel did not do that for me.  I was intrigued by the plot, but the writing bored me.  It seemed to me that the author was attempting a Gossip Girl background, but she did not really create the facade completely.  I did not feel the New York City High Society backdrop.  Nor did I feel the urgency and danger which was supposed to underlie the plot until the last couple of chapters in the book.  By the time I was really into the book, it was over.

To the author's credit, she had me looking up to see when the sequel was coming out.  (For some reason, I thought this was a new series.  Guess it's proof that nursing school really has been the rock I've been living under.)  Thankfully, several books have already been published, so there's no waiting.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this novel.  I gave it a 3 out of 5 because I enjoyed it, and I want to read the next books in the series.  However, I was slightly disappointed in the writing, and I hope that the next books are written better.  I would recommend it for teenagers and young people who enjoy reading YA fiction.  It's perfectly clean and an enjoyable read.   I'm just not sure an adult used to well-written authors such as Jodi Piccoult and John Grisham would enjoy it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Findings of Note

As I left my book at the gym (sad I'm so forgetful), I have not had the quality reading time today that I wanted.  So I've been exploring goodreads and the book blogger world.  Here are some findings I thought I should share.

Lori over at Pure Imagination is holding several giveaways.  But the one I found of interest is the Pre-Holiday Pre-Order Giveaway.  She is giving away Anna and the French Kiss and The Lost Saint: A Dark Divine Novel, both of which I am very excited about and have added to my fun list.

Anna and the French Kiss
The Lost Saint: A Dark Divine Novel

Jessica over at Confessions of a Bookaholic is holding several giveaways as well, but of particular interest is Hush, a novel about children and abuse.  Though covering a deeper topic, I am still excited to get my hands on this book and read it.

Books of Note:
A Cozy Reader's Corner is hosting several giveaways as well at her wonderful blog.  However, the book I got excited about this morning during my browsing is Vampyre Kisses.  Here is a direct link to the author interview on her blog, which I really enjoyed reading.  Below is the book cover, as I just figured out this post how to post the book covers (and I love this book cover.  This book has me at the cover!)
Vampyre Kisses

Jennie over at Life is short. Read Fast. posted this review of the book Claire de Lune, which again had me at the cover and title.  I'm getting so excited about the new books of note.  I cannot wait until pay day.  Who needs food when you can read?!
Claire de Lune

Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Thoughts

As anyone who can read can tell, it's been a while since I've posted.  I've since moved, settled into a new apartment and begun some new hobbies and revisited some old ones.  I've become active in Goodreads again, and I am finding my love for reading all over.  And on that topic, I've decided to once again document my reading journey, as I read (or sometimes devour) books that I come into contact with. I have been so impressed with the online book world.  And I'm making another attempt to become apart of that world and share the interesting finds I come across.

Since I have graduated college and gotten a "big girl job," I've found myself frustrated with the lack of a goal.  Though not something as monumental as getting a bachelor's, I have decided to make a goal of reading.  And, as I'm a list person, I cannot stop at simply one goal - but I must overdo everything, and make several lists (then I never have to read a book NOT on my lists).  You'll see what I mean in a sec.  A personal life goal of mine has been to read with purpose, with the general idea of becoming a well-rounded reader.  I began this goal with the book of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  Though I am not sure I will finish all of the books in my lifetime, especially since some of them do not interest me AT ALL, I am still using the book as a guide to appreciate some of the authors that have helped create literature today.  From an algorithm, I am to read approximately 17 books per year from the list.  So here are my 17:

2010 1001 Books to Read:
1. Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley
2. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
4. Little Women (Signet Classics) by Louisa May Alcott
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (P.S.) by Barbara Kingsolver
7. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
9. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
10. Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
11. The Portrait of a Lady (Penguin Classics) by Henry James
12. Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club) by Leo Tolstoy
13. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
14. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
15. The Brothers Karamazov (Bantam Classics) by Fyodor Dosteovsky
16. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
17. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Whew.  Sounds like I need to get to work.  Maybe I'll pick shorter ones next year...  

Another personal goal that I have set, simply due to the small amount of available book funds, is to read books I already have.  I cannot even count the number of times I go to a used bookstore (or even B&N), get so excited about one book or another, buy it, come home and completely forget about it.  So I am working on reading the books I have on my bookshelves already.  Some of these are repeats of my 1001 books, but I've not listed them to keep the list seemingly manageable.  This list I have not given a "due date" so that I feel the freedom to read a new book if I so please.

Bookshelf Books to Read:
1. Wives and Daughters (Oxford World's Classics) by Elizabeth Gaskell
2. A Separate Peace by John Snowles
3. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
4. The Dirty Secrets Club (Jo Beckett)by Meg Gardiner
5. The Portrait of a Lady (Penguin Classics) by Henry James
6. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
7. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters : A Novel by Elisabeth Robinson
8. The Bourne Supremacy (Bourne Trilogy, Book 2) by Robert Ludlum
9. Eragon (Inheritance) by Christopher Paolini
10. The Emperor's Children (Vintage) by Claire Messud
11. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
12. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
13. House Rules: A Novel by Jodi Piccoult
14. The Second Coming (Words of the Prophecy) by David Burton
15. The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen
16. HISTORIAN / A NOVEL by Elizabeth Kostova
17. The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark
18. The Shack (Special Hardcover Edition) by William Young
19. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska

My final list is mainly a formality.  Due to my type A personality, if I do not have a "freedom" list, I would get so bogged down reading what I "have" to read, that it becomes no fun.  And reading's supposed to be about fun, right?  So, this is my fun list, which I can add to and subtract from at will.  I find that reading other blogs and goodreads, my TBR pile grows by leaps and bounds.  I consider this my "focused TBR" pile, which books I want to read soon rather than later.  I recently ordered some books from Goodreads book swap, so most of them are here.

Fun Books:
1. Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods, Book 1) by Melissa De La Cruz
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
3. A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries) by Charles Finch
4. The September Society (Charles Lenox Mysteries) by Charles Finch
5. The Bourne Ultimatum (Bourne Trilogy, Book 3) by Robert Ludlum
6. Heart of Stone: A Novel (Irish Angel Series) by Jill Marie Landis
7. Seducing an Angel (Huxtable) by Mary Balogh
8. The Rose Red Bride by Claire Delacroix
9. Sooner or Later (Deliverance Company #2) by Debbie Macomber
10. A Whole New Light by Sandra Brown
11. The Manning Sisters: The Cowboy's Lady\The Sheriff Takes a Wife (Mira Romance) by Debbie Macomber
12. Under Her Skin (Lone Star Sisters) by Susan Mallery
13. The Inn At Eagle Point (Chesapeake Shores) by Sherryl Woods
14. Harbor Lights (Chesapeake Shores) by Sherryl Woods

As you can see, most of my fun books are "fluff" so to speak.  I work as nurse on a floor where many of my patients are dying, so my desire to read heavy books has vanished for the present.  Instead of beating myself up about it, I decided to just go with it.  My fun list is exactly what it is called.  It's my small OCD way of keeping reading fun and staying excited about the vast world of books.

So those are my goals.  I need to come up with a prize or something when I finish.  Prizes are always fun.  But mostly, living in a new place is lonely.  I worked almost full time during college, with a full class load, so now that I am only working one job, I find myself bored.  I have not really made many friends yet in my new city.  So, I am going back to the ageless friends of my books to keep me company.  And my lists help me feel as though I have accomplished something.

Finally, I've been trying to think of a clever name for my blog.  I'm trying this one out.  It's significance is two-fold.  One: my favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, and I consider myself an Elizabeth Bennett type person.  Secondly, my dog is named after the Bennetts of Jane Austen.  So technically, I am Bennett's girl.  I'm not sure if I'm happy with it, but I'm trying it out.  Feel free to share thoughts.  I am finishing The Scarlet Pimpernel, so I hope to have a review posted up later.